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Protecting yourself from debit and credit card fraud

By: Southern Bank

Published: 04/09/2019

Your credit is your financial reputation. Without a good “financial reputation,” you may not be approved for loans or other important ventures, and you will pay more on credit when you are approved.  Because it is so important, you should do all you can to protect your financial reputation (just as you would your personal reputation).

In recent years, credit card fraud has risen. In fact, many financial institutions and other credit issuers have spent millions of dollars trying to fight this problem. What is your best defense against this crime? Let’s take a look at some precautions you can take, outlined by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), to protect yourself from credit card fraud.

Tip #1:  Sign Your Cards

You should sign your credit cards as soon as they arrive. Some people think they should put “ask for photo identification” on the back of their card instead of signing it; this is not recommended by the FTC and other experts in this area. If a thief has your card without a signature and fake identification with your name on it, what is to stop him/her from using the card?

Tip #2:  Carry Your Cards Separately and Limit How Many

You should carry your credit cards separately from your wallet. Many people carry their credit cards in a zippered compartment in their purse. As a precaution, you should always carry a limited number of credit cards. Only carry one or two cards at any given time; this will limit your exposure to any type of loss.

Tip #3:  Keep Records of Your Credit Card Information

It is important to record all of your credit card numbers, their expiration dates, and the phone number and address of each credit card issuer in a safe and secure place for future reference. Also, make sure to keep an eye on your credit card during a transaction. In most cases, you will see an entire transaction take place when you use your credit card. Stay focused on the transaction and what the merchant is doing with your card. Additionally, get your card back as quickly as possible.

Tip #4:  Destroy Records Not Needed

You should void incorrect receipts and destroy carbons immediately. In fact, it is a good habit to actually shred anything related to your account that you do not need to keep. Never let a merchant or any individual save your carbon and destroy it for you; take that responsibility upon yourself.

Tip #5:  Review Your Statement Immediately

Be sure to open each credit card statement you receive and review it for accuracy with the receipts you have saved.  If you find any discrepancies, immediately report them to your card issuer. If you don’t receive your credit card statement in a timely fashion, notify your card issuer immediately. Furthermore, be sure to notify your card issuer of any change of address prior to that change; you do not want your statement going to your old address. 

Tip #6:  Protect Your Account Number and PIN

To protect your account number, never write it on a postcard or the outside of an envelope or give it to someone over the phone or on the Internet when you did not initiate the transaction. Additionally, you should never write down your PIN needed for cash withdrawals on your card or near it. Most importantly, be sure to keep your cards to yourself. You should never share your credit cards with anyone else, even a trusted friend.

Tip #7:  Don’t Fall for Scams

If you receive a letter or phone call from a company stating they will protect you from credit card fraud if you provide them with all of your credit and other personal financial information, don’t do it. Talk to your credit card issuer about fraud protection plans they have and utilize their services if you desire to do so. If an offer or advertisement seems “too good to be true”, it probably is. Don’t provide any information to anyone requiring you to pay a fee to participate in a lottery or to activate a new credit card.

Tip #8:  Review Your Credit Report

One of the most important things you can do is review your credit report on an annual basis. If you find anything out of order on your credit report, contact your credit agency and/or your credit issuer immediately

Tip #9: Protecting Your Debit Card 

By downloading the CardValet app to your smartphone, you’re always in control of your debit card activity. Turn debit cards off and on, set thresholds, monitor transactions, and much more — all from your phone. Best of all, it's customizable to your preferences. CardValet offers an easy way to protect yourself against debit card fraud in a customizable way!

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